The Voice of the

Pelham Jewish Center

September 2023/Elul-Tishrei 5783-5784

In This Issue

Leadership Messages

Rabbi Benjamin Resnick

Education Director

Ana Turkienicz

PJC President

Lisa Neubardt

HaKol Editor

Barbara Saunders-Adams

Congregant News

& Donations

Book Notes

Barbara Saunders-Adams

Meet the Catalanos

Food For Thought

Share a Simcha

Tributes & Donations

Rabbi Benjamin Resnick

Dear Friends,

The cotton t-shirt in the picture above is, without hyperbole, one of my more prized possessions. It is on par (or almost on par) with the tallis I wore under our chuppah, an antique watch given to me by my father-in-law and some paintings of our children. The t-shirt was one half of my prize for winning the story slam at a black-box theater in a small town in Massachusetts. The theme of the slam was “firsts” and I told a story about peeling potatoes on my first night in a professional kitchen. (It was at Bouley

in Manhattan, for those of you who follow such things). It has since closed, but during its 30 year run it was famous for, among other things, serving huge quantities of pommes puree–that is mashed potatoes, which were made with one part potatoes, one part butter, and two parts self-importance which were milled by hand and seasoned with the sweat of prep cooks.) The other half of my prize, even more delicious than those potatoes (at least for the kinds of people who go to story slams), was the opportunity to tell another story at the year-end slam in front of many more people in a much bigger theater. For that one I told a story about a rough character my grandfather knew in Europe and, later, in Detroit, a man who helped my grandfather, but who was not his friend.

As most of you probably know by now, I have long believed that sharing stories–in a variety of modes and genres and contexts–is a core aspect (perhaps the core aspect) of the Jewish endeavor. The Jews–especially the ancient and not-so-ancient rabbis–are inveterate storytellers. It’s why Moshe, who claims to be a man of few words, goes on endlessly in Devarim, paving our path to redemption with tale after tale. It’s why the ancient sages created the Babylonian Talmud and called its volumes masekhta’ot, which means narrative webs, prefiguring the English idiom “to spin a yarn.” And it’s why we Jews invented stand-up comedy. We use stories, however imperfectly, to give voice to the ineffable grandeur, to the joy, to the laughter, to unspeakable pain running through our short but incandescent lives. Stories, like webs, bind us, and the more we twist and turn, the more we tell them, the tighter the embrace. 

This year I want us to hear and tell tales–in shul and around the table, in song and in verse. Some of them will be ancient. Some we will have heard many times. But some of them, crucially, must be new. To that end, we’ve put together the first of what I hope will be many High Holiday story slams. Throughout Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, once or twice per service, storytellers from our community will share two-minute, personal stories inspired by the prompt “I will always remember.” Please come listen and listen deeply. 

I hope and pray that the stories we share–those and countless others–will help us to tell the great Story Of Stories with more passion and authenticity–the story about how we’ve fallen short but can be better, about how we’ve stumbled but can rise again, about how we all walk beneath the staff of a caring shepherd, who once told the story that gave rise to all that is. 

“Do you wish to know the One Who Spoke The World Into Being?” asked the ancient rabbis. “Tell tales, because in so doing you will recognize the Holy One Blessed Be He and cling to his ways.”


R. Benjamin Resnick 


Education Director
Ana Turkienicz

At the evening meal it is customary to prepare symbolic dishes [as auspicious omens] for a good year: you dip the piece of challah of Hamotzi in honey, and after eating a kazayis of challah you should say: Yehi ratzon shetechadeish aleinu shanah tovah umetukah [May it be Your will to renew for us a good and sweet year]. After this you should dip a piece of apple in honey, say the berachah, Borei peri ha'eitz, and eat it. Then you say again Yehi ratzon etc. It is customary to eat the head of an animal and say Yehi ratzon shenih'yeh lerosh [May it be Your will] that we will be heads (leaders).” Kitzur Shulchan Arukh, (1844-1864)

As the light fall wind brings in the sounds and smells of the Jewish New Year, the Learning Center teachers are recharged and set for the arrival of our students. In our late August meeting, we spent time envisioning a year chock-full of joyful and meaningful learning for all.

Our sages were experts in Jewish education, they ensured that we experience the tastes, the smells, the sounds and the touch of Jewish tradition through specific and accessible ways - seeing and tasting a round challah and apples dipped in sweet honey to wish for a round, sweet and full year - and added the appropriate Hebrew blessings to these customs, to remind us that we need to be thankful for what we have.

The idea that you can help the mind envision goodness through the manipulation of concrete things by designing a ceremonial celebration that is accessible to all ages in all times and places is nothing less than brilliant. At the Learning Center, we strive to maximize the opportunities to engage our students in meaningful learning experiences, following the teachings of our ancestors and the innovative minds of our teachers.

Together with Rabbi Resnick, our families and madrichim, we hope that our students create memorable experiences so they grow into knowledgeable, kind and active members of our community and the world at large.

That’s why I feel so immensely proud when parents of alumni or older students share with me what their children are doing with the education they received at the LC.

For example, students who volunteer to read Torah on Shabbat at their summer camp, like Madison Glick in the attached photo, or students who seek to lead change in the world and create spaces for others to do that, like Hannah Steinberg who is leading other Jewish teens for climate change, or Eliana Herzog, who created curricula for the students she is teaching at the Religious School close to her college, or Ben Sasson, who invested the past year as a fellow with the Hartman Institute and is taking a second fellowship year now, or Rebecca Ploski, who chose Jewish Studies as her major in college. These are just a few examples that parents have shared with me this past month. Most importantly, this is of course a joint venture between families, the LC, and the immense support we receive from the PJC community at large, such as the new initiative proposed by Sandra Goldman, who organized a weekly delivery of challah every Thursday to our families (if you would also like a weekly delivery of challah, please email or text me: edudir@thepjc.org or 914-4394983).

That’s why our community should be proud of our youth and how they turn their Jewish learning experiences into acts of kindness and compassion, as they become agents of change in the world, becoming the leaders our sages wished for in their Rosh Hashanah blessings.

This is also why we do this careful and dedicated work and why we love what we do. Moreover, this is why we are excited to start a new year at the Learning Center, welcoming new students and their families: Claire Catalano, Samantha Bernstein, James and Abbey Charney, Vera PoppeEva Owen-Michaane. Hazel Smyser, Hazel Winquist, and our new faculty members: Morah Sophie Lee, (Kitah Alef), Morah Lilly Engel, (Bubby’s Kitchen), and Morah Ronit Razinovsky,(BMitzvah class). Bruchim Habayim - Welcome!

As our sages have prescribed us in the past, let’s all dip our round challah and apples in the honey and wish for a full, sweet and round new year to all of our students, families, faculty and staff, and of course for our amazing Pelham Jewish Center community- it takes a village!

Shanah Tovah u’metukah to each and everyone of you,



Lisa Neubardt

“No Skunks on the Bus”

- some random kid

This quote stuck with me amidst all the reading I did about managing one’s life during and after the pandemic. There were so many reports about how to deal with “coming back” -- be it to school, offices, relationships, synagogues, whatever. The quote is from a 6-year-old kid when asked about going back to school. From his perspective, seeing friends, leaving his house, being in a classroom were daunting and haunting propositions. To help, he and his mom reimagined his life as a bus – where skunks were not allowed.

Since I am not 6 years old and thankfully through school, I see “skunks” as a metaphor for all those responsibilities and expectations that face us as the Summer ends and the Fall begins. I am grateful there are no true skunks in my life. At the same time, “coming back” after lazy summer days, vacations, long weekends with friends, a little too much BBQ and ice cream, I can get caught up in the angst of the schedule and tasks that await instead of being more receptive to the new year ahead. 

I start this Fall as the President of the PJC. I am admittedly anxious about doing it right. I am also thrilled for the honor and the opportunity to impact our community in meaningful ways. Over the summer, I got to spend time with each Board member. There is a great group at the helm, with a variety of talents and creative energies about their roles and impact. Right out of the gate, with the help of Board members, we have finished a security project, making being in the building safer for everyone, held a very well attended and convivial BBQ for prospective new members and started preparations for the High Holidays. The LC is opening this week and the course load is full of the energy of new and former teachers excited to be with your kids for another year. Avinoam and Chavi will be with us, too; it wouldn’t be High Holidays at the PJC any other way. 

I know the risk exists for skunks creeping onto my bus. And that’s ok. If there exists the possibility that life can be complicated and hard, there must also exist the possibility that life can be simple and good. Selichot is this weekend and Erev Rosh Hashanah is September 15. The new year is days away and I am very excited to celebrate it with you. 

Wishing you all a sweet Shana Tova, and no skunks on your bus.


HaKol Editor
Barbara Saunders-Adams

Dear Friends, 

I'm excited to begin a new year together at the PJC. I am looking forward to seeing my many PJC friends in person for the High Holidays, including Avinoam, Havi and family. Erev Rosh HaShanah 5784 starts Friday night September 15th at sundown. It's not often that we get to celebrate Shabbat and a new year together. I hope this is a fortuitous beginning.

HaKol is your monthly magazine. I hope you will join me by suggesting topics for future articles and/or submitting a review of a PJC event or relevant Pelham happening. HaKol will continue introducing new members, sending thoughts from Rabbi Resnick, the new PJC President, Lisa Neubardt, and myself. It will also provide book reviews and poetry and announce simchot and tributes to the PJC. Your thoughts and input are essential to this endeavor.

I wish all of you Shanah Tova U'Metukah, A Sweet New Year.


Meet the Catalanos

Meet Danny and Ariel Catalano and their three children, Claire 5 1/2, Miles 3 1/2 and Nate 1 1/2. The Catalanos have lived in Pelham for 7 years and are our newest PJC members. Ariel grew up in Larchmont attending the WJC in Mamaroneck. Danny grew up in Monticello. Coincidentally, both had the same Bar/Bat Mitzvah date, May 15th.

Ariel and Danny are excited to join the PJC community. They have friends in Pelham who speak highly of the PJC and easily convinced them to join our shul. Ariel is a senior customer success manager for a company called Hearsay and Danny is a Technical Recruiter for a company called Coalition. They are thrilled to send their daughter, Claire, to the Learning Center. Ariel and Danny are looking forward to making friends in the community. The Catalanos love the family traditions in Judaism and enjoy celebrating Shabbat as a family on Friday nights. They also love to cook together. For now, Ariel and Danny have time to volunteer as parent helpers at the LC.


Book Notes

A Pigeon And A Boy

by Meir Shalev

Meir Shalev's beautifully written, poetic story of returning 'home' personifies the struggles of the Jewish people to forge a homeland. The book is framed by two love stories, separated by half a century but connected by one enchanting act of devotion.

During the 1948 War of Independence—a time when pigeons are still used to deliver battlefield messages—a gifted young pigeon handler is mortally wounded. In the moments before his death, he dispatches one last pigeon. The bird is carrying his extraordinary gift to the girl he has loved since adolescence. Intertwined with this story is the contemporary tale of Yair Mendelsohn, who has his own legacy from the 1948 war. Yair is a tour guide specializing in bird-watching trips who, in middle age, meets up with a childhood girlfriend. His growing passion for her, along with a gift from his mother on her deathbed, becomes the key to a life he thought no longer possible. 

By working stories in the present and the past against each other, Shalev brings into question the validity, and the reliability, of memory. “This is my story,” Yair reminds us, “and I shorten it and lengthen it, I fabricate and confess.” Follow Yair as he connects the dots between Israel past and Israel present to uncover unexpected truths about himself, love and war.


Food for Thought

Jerusalem is Full of Used Jews

by Yehuda Amichai

Jerusalem is full of used Jews, worn out by history,

Jews second-hand, slightly damaged, at bargain prices.

And the eye yearns toward Zion all the time. And all the eyes

of the living and the dead are cracked like eggs

on the rim of the bowl, to make the city

puff up rich and fat.

Jerusalem is full of tired Jews,

always goaded on again for holidays, for memorial days,

like circus bears dancing on aching legs.

What does Jerusalem need? It doesn't need a mayor,

it needs a ring-master, whip in hand,

who can tame prophecies, train prophets to gallop

around and around in a circle, teach its stones to line up

in a bold, risky formation for the grand finale.

Later they'll jump back down again

to the sound of applause and wars.

And the eye yearns toward Zion, and weeps.

Translated by Chana Bloch

Share a Simcha

"Share a Simcha" allows congregants to share their news with our PJC community. Please submit news about family members -- engagements, births, job updates, kid achievements, community acknowledgements and any other milestones -- to the HaKol Editor, Barbara Saunders-Adams.

. Mazal Tov to Jacqueline Schachter & David Haft on the birth of a granddaughter. (June 1). Mazal tov to the joyous parents, Adam Weinstein and Da'loia Moore. David & Jacqueline warmly welcome Amanda into their family.

. Mazal Tov to Steve and Hildy Martin on the birth of a grandson (July 21). Mazal tov to the joyous parents Mo and Atenea. Steve & Hildy warmly welcome Pascal Ixim (Pesach Zalman into the Martin family).

. Mazal Tov to Darren and Claudia Lee on the engagement of their elder son, Max, to

Erin Walter.

Share a Simcha is a regular HaKol feature, so keep your news and updates coming!

Tributes & Donations
PJC Logo
Did you know you can make tributes and donations online? Click here to learn more.

Donations to the PJC from...

  • Kathrine & John Conroy in honor of Efrem & Frederica Sigel

Donations to the Rabbi's Discretionary Fund

  • Meryl Druckerman In memory of Michael Turner (Marjut's father)

  • Jack Klebanow and Marcela Hoffer in memory of Ruth Radvany (David's mother)

  • Sam and Barbara Saunders-Adams in memory of Michael Turner

Billing statements are emailed monthly. 

Checks made out to the Pelham Jewish Center can be mailed to Pelham Jewish Center, P.O. Box 418, Montvale, NJ 07645. Credit card payment instructions are on your monthly emailed billing statement, or go to https://thepjc.shulcloud.com/member

If you are interested in paying via appreciated securities or IRA distributions, please email Mitch Cepler.

It is the policy of the Pelham Jewish Center to make every effort to assist members experiencing financial challenges. Financial challenges should never be a barrier to being an active member of the PJC community. You can reach out to President Steve Martin, Treasurer Mitchell Cepler or Rabbi Benjamin Resnick to speak confidentially concerning your ability to pay PJC dues and Learning Center tuition.

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